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Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Category

Why continue the frantic searching? I have learned where the answers lie…

Waking up to the realization that we are so much more than our physical selves is just that – waking up! Just as our physical bodies wake and stretch after a good night’s sleep, ready to face the day, our awakened souls are also bright and bushy tailed, ready to face a lifetime of living more from the heart and less from the mind. As the heart begins to open to all the love it discovers was always there, we can find ourselves swept away by all the wondrous ways to access this delicious feeling of love. And that is a good thing! For a time anyway. We find others like ourselves, and we find teachers and gurus and healers and mediums and books and CDs and DVDs and psychic fairs, all designed to help our emerging selves figure out how to live from this new found energy of the soul – phew! It can be a blessing to find the right guidance and healing, but it can also be overwhelming after a time. And numerous times I have gone into what I call my “bull in a china shop” mode in regard to my spiritual path, filling my calendar with everything I thought I had to do, to ensure my soul’s enlightenment. But the object of all the learning we gather is not to hang on the apron strings of another, but rather to find our own apron strings to hang onto; they are there inside all of us, the answers we have been looking for.

This is not to say that we don’t need all those gifted and amazing souls who help us during the start of our awakening. Lord knows, I would still be crumpled in a fetal position on my bed, crying my eyes out or else still throwing eggs at the pine trees in my ex-husband’s yard. No, all the wonderful souls on this earth and in spirit that have helped me to heal and grow have been treasures sent to me; helpful beyond words. But just as a child grows and matures, readying themselves to go out into the world, so do we in the name of our spiritual selves. Any good metaphysical teacher of any type will want their students to learn from them, rather than cling to them for constant guidance and answers. The last few readings I have had with mediums and intuitives were more like sessions of validation for me; telling me things that really, I already knew beforehand. Oh, I still came away with useful guidance, and of course I realize that the learning never stops, as I still take in various seminars and books, but in a much lesser degree. I find that I may actually be in a position to impart some pearls of wisdom, to help others as I have been helped. Granted, I have no formal training in anything metaphysical, I don’t have years of psychic experience. But I am starting to turn more and more to my soul, learning how powerful it is, actually trusting it! And you know, it feels good to be able to trust myself – confidence in what I hear and feel. I found a couple of passages that illustrate what I am trying to say – that I have learned where the answers lie, inside of me, much closer than I could have ever imagined.

 

This is part of a channeled message I read somewhere, sadly not having made note of the source, but the words really resonated with me and still do:

“Our true purpose is to help you connect with that higher part of yourself that is God. Once that is accomplished it is easy to see that you will never need to ask for answers outside of yourself. Hold your own power of free choice ever at the forefront of your being. Take your time and re-align your energy where it best suits you.”

 

And here is part of a passage from Luang Por Chah, a revered teacher of Buddhism:

“In the beginning you must rely on a teacher to instruct and advise you. When you understand, then practice. If you understand the practice it’s no longer necessary for the teacher to teach you; just do the work yourselves. You may wish to travel, to visit other teachers and try other systems. This is a natural desire. You will find that a thousand questions asked and knowledge of many systems will not bring you to the truth. Eventually you will get bored. You will see that only by stopping and examining your own mind can you find out what the Buddha talked about. No need to go searching outside yourself. Eventually you must return to face your own true nature.”

 

 

 

 

The fear of imperfection

Life is not all neat and tidy, presented to us all packaged up in pretty paper, with a lovely bow attached. No, more times than not, life can be messy, wrapped up in the funny papers instead. I tend to forget about the messiness of life when my own life is flowing so smoothly, with a few bumps in the road but not having to bust up the boulders that were in the way during so much of my life. But in recently reconnecting with a friend who is trying to find her way in life, having relocated to a new home many miles away just as I did, I am reminded of so many things; things about life itself and things about my own self.

My view of life here on earth is that of a classroom, with most of the lessons being learned in the experiential way, much like my internship I went through after studying various subjects in a school setting. And really, why else would we come here, if not to learn lessons from the messiness of life? Otherwise, wouldn’t we choose to stay in heaven, cavorting about in blissful perfection? No, we leave that place of wonder because our souls know how much growth comes from vast array of experiences on earth. And I remind myself that I chose to come here, to this place of many challenges, so that I could learn from all the imperfections. Relationships here are the perfect learning environment, as we dance our dances with one another; sometimes in step and sometimes stepping on each others’ toes.

After I woke up from my life I had been barely awake in for most of my years, I was able to realize and admit to myself that I struggle with issues of co-dependency and insecurity. When I did the test to determine what my Enneagram number is (the Enneagram is a system to help determine personality types), I came up as a nine, the peacemaker. Of course! I was always so afraid of conflict, of disagreements, of anything that would color my world and those in it less than perfect. And in my co-dependent way, I tried to control everyone and everything so they would be perfect and happy and peaceful. Now I can see that life and relationships are not always meant to be smooth as silk, although of course our ultimate goal is to be happy, especially with the ones we love. But along that road to happiness may be sacrifices made by one or the other, and a relationship is about loving honestly, not giving in to please everyone else just to calm the waters. Sometimes the sea has to boil, as well as ourselves. My ex-husband and I never argued in 27 years of marriage. I used to think that was something to be proud of, but now I see it as something that was so very wrong in our relationship.

So I welcome the teacher called imperfection, not running away and hiding in a corner until the storms pass. I find it is possible to love myself and others so fully with the constant knowing that we are all earth angels here together, all so perfectly imperfect.

Learning what friendship is all about

I had sadly wiped the slate of friendship clean throughout the years, focusing all my energies on my husband, my children and my work. The few friends I had seemed to slip away like sand through my fingers, as I blatantly ignored them in favor of my family. My introverted nature didn’t help matters, and I found the only friend I really had to do things with was my husband. Luckily I did manage to keep in touch with a high school friend, Denise, who lived out of state – and I was a poor friend to her, not responding to her invitations to visit. Bless her though, she kept our friendship going even though I was such a weak participant. I found myself becoming so envious of women who had a close circle of female friends. I wanted to be one of those women.

Mistakenly, I thought that having my husband as my only friend was enough. But as our children grew older and didn’t need or want my attention so much, I saw how limited my world of connections with others really was. And I also saw that my spouse and I were really not on the same page in so many ways, and we divorced. Now I was starting over from scratch, trying to remember not only how to make friends, but how to be a good friend. And I have learned so much.

I have learned that sometimes we come together as friends, for reasons unknown, only to find ourselves drifting apart from each other. But that is the way of life at times, and even though we don’t connect with those friends like we used to, they are still a connection in our hearts. I have learned not to burn so many bridges, as life is an ebb and flow, and I may flow back to old friends.

I have learned that we may seek out friends on the basis of shared interests, and it is always a joy to share our passions with one another. When I moved to Portland, these shared interests were a great way to meet people – the book club, the knitting group, the walking group. But as I began to make closer friends from members of these different groups, I realized that sometimes it is so true that opposites attract! In my mind, I had to find friends who liked the same music as me, who followed the same spiritual practice, who had similar lifestyles. How wrong I was on all those counts! I am passionate about music; most of my Portland friends listen to talk radio. But because they do, we have some enlightening discussions. My friend Vanessa in Minnesota loves her political science classes; I haven’t read a newspaper for years now, and I only do so when it is an election year. I find that because of all our unique interests, it opens up the gateway for learning, for discussion, for discovering new possibilities for my life.

Now I realize what friendship is all about. Friendship comes on many different levels.  Some friendships have deeper bonds that allow the sharing of more intimate thoughts, and there are casual friendships that are all about sharing lunch together once a month. Each type of friendship is equally important in our lives. The bond of friendship is one that goes beyond the superficial aspect of shared interests. It is a bond that comes from connecting with the true self of each person, a resonating from soul to soul. My friends are like a beautiful bouquet of flowers – different varieties of lovely blooms that bring me joy in all their unique ways.

My friend Denise & I with the “umbrella man” in Portland

My Minnesota friend Vanessa & I

Out to lunch with the “library ladies”

I took a little trip

I took a little trip the past couple of days, but not the kind where you leave your home. I went on an ego trip, the kind that literally trips you up; as my ego put the pedal to the metal, full throttle, taking me for a ride I really didn’t want to go on.

I count my spiritual awakening as one of the greatest and most significant life changes I have been through. I never want to go back to who I was before that, and I never will. I spent the majority of my life sleepwalking through it, but now I am awake and alive in a way that is so refreshing! It feels like a good stretch when you get out of  bed; this true self of mine shining through. Ah, but there can be some pitfalls with all this love if one is not careful, what I like to call “spiritual superiority”. This is when the awakened soul climbs up on a pedestal they have constructed for themselves, feeling as if they are the enlightened and exalted ones, better in so many ways than those poor creatures still dowsed in fear. These are the times I forget I have an ego. And believe you me, I have climbed up there a few times, and subsequently fallen off – thank goodness for that! The ego may be bruised and battered after falling, but the soul always says, “Thank you”.

And it’s funny, because I could see events leading up to my fall; I watched myself climb up to that pedestal where the ego likes to hang out. I had lunch with a couple of friends one bright, sunny day, and as we sat talking about one friend’s cute haircut she had just gotten, I found myself wanting to say, “Enough about her hair, what about mine? Isn’t mine pretty too?” Then the conversation turned to talk radio, which I don’t care to listen to, and I could feel myself pouting inside like a child, left out of all the attention. Then the next day the crabby side of me came out; the side that is short tempered with strangers who are just doing their job. I went to the Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood, and was stopped by a very nice young lady from the local electric company, wanting to explain a new program they have. As she was patiently going through her talk, I could feel my blood boil at what I felt was her pushiness, and it was all I could do to not say, “Leave me the hell alone, would you?!” But I held my tongue and just walked away, seething.

Then it all came to a head as I met with my financial adviser the other day, to look at my dwindling retirement account I have been living off of, trying to come up with a solution to save that money for the future and find some money for me now to live on. Well, I knew the answer – I am going to have to find a job, after being retired for three years. And bless his heart, this man had worked so hard to put together all of the data and numbers, showing me the reality of things in a very kind and patient manner. I was not upset with him for showing me the light. But after I got home, it was then that my ego dragged me into full meltdown mode; telling me I was a failure, a fool, an idiot for thinking I could play the retirement game before age 59, when I can use that money without any penalty. I felt angry and betrayed; having to work again was not part of the plan for my life now. My ego did not like it one bit, having to finally accept the fact that this really is part of the plan. But now I can see it as such, and accept that going back to the world of work is a path I am to go on, and the reasons will be revealed to me when I am ready.

I know that we can dream our dreams, and create what we feel is best for us by focusing on and ultimately manifesting those intentions. But then there are the times that it is not to be, and that’s when we have to let go and trust in God and the Universe, as we are guided and led to places and events that may seem unpleasant at the time, but afford us much growth and are exactly what we need. I want to enjoy my time here, not go through it kicking and screaming because what I thought was best for me did not transpire. I learn time and time again that God always brings what is for my highest good and the good of others, and I find that trust once more.

That little voice inside my head

We all seem to hear about “women’s intuition”, and I can remember telling my daughter as she was growing up, “Trust that little voice inside your head, because women just seem to know things, even if they don’t seem to make sense.” But since that time I have come to realize that we all have that gift of knowing, men and women alike.  I do believe that it is easier for women to admit to using it and trusting it; the male ego sometimes dismissing it as much too illogical. But I am convinced our world is heading towards a time when the use of intuition as guidance will be universally accepted and trusted.

My whole adventure of moving to Portland from Minnesota was a shining example of using intuition and following messages that came from elsewhere – I was told to rent a car, what papers to bring, and I was even given numbers that translated into the zip code of the area I now live in. One day as I sat eating my yummy peanut butter sandwich, enjoying the delicious simplicity of it, I started to think about how much I wanted to move to Portland. I had a train ticket to go there in September, six months away, thinking I wanted to enjoy one last Minnesota summer before planning my move. Then I heard the voice, clear as day asking me, “What are you waiting for?” Good question – what in the world was I waiting for? So before I gave my fun- killing, logical left side of my brain a chance to reason me out of it, I called Amtrak and changed my train ticket to May. This was a spontaneous and impulsive move for me, so unusual for my usually organized, safe and calculated self – but it felt so right! And now I find a year later, having made that move to Portland, that it was exactly what was supposed to happen. I am happier than I have ever been here; I am in my soul’s home.

The past couple of days have been ripe with small examples of intuitiveness – knowing seconds before the phone rang that my step mom was calling me, and the other day anticipating the early arrival of my friend for our weekly walking date – this is my dear friend who is always running late by at least 15 minutes, and that day I just knew she was going to be 15 minutes early – and she was! Now these are not earth shattering instances of intuition at its finest, but I think they are meant to show us how us we are so much more than just our logical, thought out selves. And granted, it is not an exact science by any means! I have had my share of misses; things that come to me that I am convinced will come to pass but never do. But I look at our time here on earth as a classroom, and learning comes by trial and error as any good scientist will tell you. Intuition is a skill like any other, to be practiced and honed. And earth is not a place of perfection, that’s for sure! So while I am here, I will continue to use my intuition – I have discovered it is my very best tour guide on earth.

 

 

A morning walk

I try to get out and walk every day, which is usually sometime after lunch. In the mornings I have my routine of prayer and meditation, followed by coffee or tea while I journal or read something spiritually uplifting. This little routine I have can sometimes go on for three to four hours, so there goes the morning most days! But I do find it a lovely way to start my day. The other morning though, something in me whispered, “Let’s go for a walk, before the day becomes warm and full of people.” So at 7 a.m. (gasp!) I was up and out of bed, and headed up the steep climb to Washington Park, which is the home of the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland. What a wonderful treat it turned out to be, as I cleared the morning cobwebs from my head and took in the beauty of a place that is so deliciously close to my home, available to me at any time. And the writer in me found inspiration in a few words I journaled about my experience, how it just felt so good – and the words come out in a poem.

It Felt So Good

 

At the top of the hill I stopped

And looked out over the city draped in haze

Sitting on the soft green grass I rested

In a meditative pose

I opened to all the earth’s gentle energies

It felt so good!

Walking through the playground I stopped

To sit on the swing

Slowly moving, to and fro

I gathered my strength and flew above the earth

Gliding through the cool morning air

It felt so good!

Meandering onward I came to the singing fountain

I stopped to sit on the stony edge

And listen to the lovely melodies

Of the water chime as it played on metal

Tantalizing my sense of sound

It felt so good!

I walked along until I spied the splash of colors

Roses in full bloom, roses in the fullness of being

I noticed the brilliant shades and hues

I breathed in the familiar fragrance

I brushed the soft silk of a petal against my skin

It felt so good!

I turned to go home

Along the shaded dirt path

My body swinging with the rhythm of life

My heart open wide like the roses

My soul singing like the fountain

And it felt so good

Some call them pigeons, I call them doves

I feel a kinship with these birds, the ones so many proclaim as “dirty”, my avian friends that seem to love the city life as much as I do. Most people call them pigeons, but I prefer to call them by the more lovely nom de plume of doves. The word dove conjures up images of peace and serenity, and this is what they bring to me as I hear them cooing outside my window and up on the roof. They are much shyer than the crows, with their loud and raucous caws, bold enough to walk across my skylight and look in on me. The lovely doves are hesitant about presenting themselves; gingerly stepping onto the skylight almost as if it were a dare. In the early morning I hear them fly about with harried activity, as their wings whistle while they fly from building to building. Sometimes they land on my windowsill for a brief rest, but they are much too introverted to respond to my attempts at conversation. So I listen carefully to their silent message of peace, and rejoice every morning as I wake to their gentle songs.

Shadows of the doves

Their beating wings spreading peace

Cooing songs of love

Re-inventing myself, midlife

What do I want to be when I grow up? This is not a question that a 53 year old woman usually asks of herself, but I keep asking myself that question as of late. I feel as if I am at a crossroads, like the train has stalled on the tracks, like I’m in a holding pattern waiting to land, or any other clever cliche you can come up with to say “I don’t know what I want to do with my life!” I walked the path of convention for many years; go to college, go to work, get married, raise a family. Then I opened the can of worms called awakening, and said hello to my soul. My soul doesn’t much care for conventional ways any longer. So many things in my life are so perfect; living in Portland, not working in healthcare any longer, even not owning a car any longer is a dream come true. But as I watch my IRA balance go down instead of up, my little scheme of living off of that until I die may not work any longer. So now what? I feel a pull in my soul to do some type of work, some type of soulful work, but I hear no clear cut answers. This morning as I melted down into frustration and impatience and fear about my future, I started to wonder if this time of non-doing is the lesson, a lesson in trust. Waking up to the fullness of my soul has revealed so many positive aspects of self, but there is also the shadow side. I learn I am impetuous when it is not appropriate, I am impatient and want things now, and I am controlling, thinking I know what is best for me. Maybe I have stalled so I can learn to let go, to let the flow of the Universe touch my life, and trust in that. So I work on those nasty attributes that make me feel like a child at times, and instead turn to the strength of my ever maturing soul to find out what I will be when I grow up, in this phase of my life.

Emotional energies

I’ve been reading a wonderful book by Melody Beattie entitled Finding Your Way Home. This morning I read a chapter about emotions and dealing with them in a soulful way. And there was an exercise that consisted of picking out an emotional trigger from a very long list and journaling about it. The one that spoke to me was grief, but instead of journaling about it I found a poem coming through instead. As I see it, grief is a never ending journey; one with many twists and turns, shifting and changing as we deal with the often painful certainty of death in our lives here on earth.

An Arrangement

Grief and I

Have an arrangement now

I allow it to visit

But not so often anymore

And visitation time

Is much shorter than before

So we shake hands

And both agree

To this new arrangement

I Am – a movie we all need to see

I watched an amazing movie last night, entitled simply I Am. It is a film made by a director named Tom Shadyac, who is famous in his own right, having directed such films as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty and other successful comedies. It tells the story of his journey after suffering head injuries following a biking accident, causing him to reevaluate his life and lifestyle, as well as asking the questions: What’s wrong with our world? and What can we do about it? He talked to and interviewed a string of great minds, from scientists to poets to religious leaders. And the underlying theme that I got out of this film is that we are all connected, all life here on this earth is connected, in a way that cannot be scientifically measured or proved in that way. And that connecting energy is love! This film also brought forth the knowing that our innate nature is that of compassion, but we have buried that under the guise of competition in our modern day societies. Yet the final message that came out of all this is one of hope; that as humans we have the power within us to change our world to one of cooperation and sharing, making sure that all are taken care of. As Tom Shadyac worked on this film and started to question his own lifestyle of excess, he eventually began to heal. He then took steps to simplify his life; selling his huge mansion of a home to live in a mobile home park, selling his private jet, and becoming an instructor at a nearby university, teaching screenwriting. Another message I garnered from this is that we are not meant to give up all our comforts of life and live in near poverty. But so many of us have so much more than we truly need to be happy and comfortable in our lives, at the expense of those who are living lives where their most basic needs are not met.  And as I reflect on the main thing that I got out of this wonderful film, it all comes back to this: Love is the most important thing.

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